“Everyone wants to know how we can predict death.”First line in The First to Die at the End by Adam Silvera
Happy New Year!! 2022 is officially over but I still need to talk about it a little bit. First of all, I need to celebrate having survived December because work and the weather meant that fact wasn’t a given. I work outside and it has been so cold! And snowy! I generally don’t approve of snow but I’ll amend that and say snow is allowed if there’s only a little of it and the sun shines immediately after until the snow is gone again. Because that’s super pretty! We had a couple of days of that and I definitely didn’t hate my job during those.
The weather that’s not allowed, though? The temperature is one or two degrees above freezing and then it starts raining because do you know what happens then? The rain turns to ice as it hits the ground and then I hit the ground because the ice came out of nowhere!!!
Finally, I also had to survive the Christmas party with my colleagues and the interesting aspect comes from the fact that I primarily work with men (like, we were three women at that party and one went home early). It was still fun as long as I remembered to turn my hearing off once in a while. The worst part actually came when I was forced to participate in someone else’s idea of entertainment. Two teams were competing against each other in a lot of stuff meant to make us look stupid and I had definitely not had enough alcohol at that point. But I still got through it without combusting in a heap of anxiety.
Did I read in December, though? Actually yes! Quite a bit more than expected considering my schedule.
This just looks good. I read a normal amount, I completely balanced YA and Adult, and I had a pretty high average rating. Reading more than 70 books in a year is also a huge accomplishment for me!
But let’s just get on with the reviews of the six books I read in the final month of 2022!
Bitterblue (Graceling Realm #3)
Author: Kristin Cashore
Published: May 1st, 2012
Genre: YA Fantasy
Buzzwords: dealing with past trauma, magical abilities, politics
I’ve committed the mortal sin of reading a series out of order because I have not read the first two books in the Graceling Realm. For some completely unidentifiable reason, the world didn’t end and I thoroughly enjoyed Bitterblue. It was so magnificently dark and really dealt with some heavy topics that aren’t often explored in YA fantasy. I think that’s also what made me very invested in the mystery of the book. Horrific things in the past seem to still affect Bitterblue and the people around her but there’s so much secrecy about why that is exactly. The darkness of the book made sure I had a hard time guessing what was going on. I couldn’t predict how far Cashore was willing to go and I loved that.
I also really loved the characters because they were so far from perfect. And Cashore didn’t try and make them look like they were. Like, the good guys will hit each other when they’re mad and not immediately make up. Showing a character doing something irrational in anger and actually allowing that flaw to exist is something that makes them so real and it kept me wanting more.
The River of Silver
Author: S. A. Chakraborty
Published: March 1st, 2022
Buzzwords: Short stories, The Daevabad Trilogy
My overall rating is 3 stars but everything that involved Jamshid was 5 stars in terms of my enjoyment, of course. Still, as much as loved getting more of Jamshid, I don’t recommend this unless you’re a huge fan of The Daevabad Trilogy and so must read absolutely everything about it. I even hesitate to call these short STORIES because only one really has the feel of one. It’s more just deleted scenes and only scenes where people are just talking. They’re not doing anything in most of these scenes and while some of the conversations are interesting enough, you can tell they weren’t allowed to matter because, well, they were cut and deemed unnecessary the first time around. So I think the conclusion is that you can skip this one unless you simply cannot function without reading more about these characters.
The First to Die at the End (Death-Cast #0)
Author: Adam Silvera
Published: October 4th, 2022
Genre: YA Contemporary
I’ve recently read another book by Adam Silvera, Here’s To Us, and maybe that was a mistake because now I feel like I’ve read the same book twice. The characters felt very similar and both are set in New York, a place Silvera apparently loves a lot so it’s an important part of both books. The reason I felt both were just fine might be that I don’t love Silvera’s writing as much as I used to. This one felt especially sappy and the audiobook didn’t help with that. Like, the characters were constantly feeling sorry for themselves and I’m just not into that.
This prequel shows us how Death-Cast started and how the world reacted to knowing who was going to die, which was definitely the most interesting part of the book. It gives us POVs from other than the two main characters, and I thought the ones from the creator of Death-Cast were very fascinating! I wouldn’t have minded a book just from his perspective. Still, the main story is the romance (again insta-love because we only have 24 hours) so I think it missed going deeper into the possible societal changes such an invention would bring about. But yeah, if you love Silvera, you’ll probably like this one too.
UnDivided (Unwind Dystology #4)
Author: Neal Shusterman
Published: October 14th, 2014
Genre: YA Science Fiction
I’m so relieved that I loved this series’ ending after feeling lukewarm about books two and three. I’m still not sure those were needed for us to get this ending but I don’t care because this one made me just as excited as the first book. I think the pacing was back on track and I could easily follow why I needed to read each scene. There was always a clear direction to the plot so I wasn’t bored at any point.
And I just really loved how the very end came about. I had kind of predicted what would happen but somehow the execution of it kept me hooked and still had me super emotional. I don’t really know what else to say since this is the final book in a four-book series. I can only highly recommend this if you’re into dystopia-like settings where the author speculates on what society and humanity can turn into.
Author: Christina Lauren
Published: May 14th, 2019
Buzzwords: Hate-to-love, Hawaii
Synopsis: Olive is always unlucky: in her career, in love, in…well, everything. Her identical twin sister Ami, on the other hand, is probably the luckiest person in the world. Her meet-cute with her fiancé is something out of a romantic comedy (gag) and she’s managed to finance her entire wedding by winning a series of Internet contests (double gag). Worst of all, she’s forcing Olive to spend the day with her sworn enemy, Ethan, who just happens to be the best man.
Olive braces herself to get through 24 hours of wedding hell before she can return to her comfortable, unlucky life. But when the entire wedding party gets food poisoning from eating bad shellfish, the only people who aren’t affected are Olive and Ethan. And now there’s an all-expenses-paid honeymoon in Hawaii up for grabs.
Putting their mutual hatred aside for the sake of a free vacation, Olive and Ethan head for paradise, determined to avoid each other at all costs. But when Olive runs into her future boss, the little white lie she tells him is suddenly at risk to become a whole lot bigger. She and Ethan now have to pretend to be loving newlyweds, and her luck seems worse than ever. But the weird thing is that she doesn’t mind playing pretend. In fact, she feels kind of… lucky.
Take my rating of 3.5 with a grain of salt because I’m not completely sure it’s correct. For the most part, I really liked this book. I wasn’t considering 5 stars but it was a solid 4 stars until it went completely off the rails. But I’m getting back to that because, like I said, I liked a lot of what this book did. My favorite thing was probably the writing of the dialogue which has some amazing snippets of dry humor in there that just had me grinning despite listening to this in public. Like, I really don’t think this is my last Christina Lauren book because I do enjoy their writing very much.
Did I like the romance? Well, it was fun and the characters felt somewhat unique with their very distinct personalities. But I’m probably also going to have forgotten about them and their romance in a couple of months. Still, reading about them was a good experience. That is until I reached the final 40 minutes of the audiobook. What the hell happened?!? I can’t say too much of course, but we were cruising toward an ending I would have LOVED but then we got a trainwreck instead. It’s a hard pass from here!
The Tangled Lands
Authors: Paolo Bacigalupi and Tobias S. Buckell
Published: February 27th, 2018
Buzzwords: Novellas, magic with consequences
Individual ratings of the novellas:
The Alchemist – 5 stars
The Executionesss – 4 stars
The Children of Khaim – 4 stars
The Blacksmith’s Daughter – 3 stars
The Tangled Lands is a collection of four novellas set in the city of Khaim, a place where the use of magic has consequences. The city is being taken over by bramble that is deadly to touch and this bramble grows every time someone uses magic within the city. Which is, like, one of the coolest premises I’ve ever read about. However, I only felt that the first novella really took advantage of that. It was by far my favorite with an awesome plot twist and it kind of felt like a prologue to a full-length novel that I would definitely read.
The other three stories felt more contained and I had hoped this backdrop of the dangerous Khaim would bind them together more. Like, the first story felt like a setup for the others but that continuity didn’t follow through. Still, if you’re in the mood for fantasy novellas, I highly recommend this because the premise is just captivating. I also think the authors did a great job of connecting some social commentary to it, especially in terms of class differences.
That was it for my final wrap-up of 2022! A rather successful month, I’d say. Please let me know if you’ve read any of the books and what your thoughts are, and then I hope you all have a great 2023!
5 thoughts on “December 2022 Reading Wrap-Up”
Why do so many people fail to appreciate the awesomeness that is snow? 😭 I mean, you’re very right that snow is best when it’s very cold and the sun shines afterwards, but there needs to be lots of it! ❄️ You’re on point about the dangers of black ice and work parties, though – thankfully, I successfully escaped ours before the awkward drinking games started 😂
The best thing about this post, though, was obviously that Bitterblue was in it! 🥰 I loved reading about how much you loved it again, and thoroughly agree with everything you said!!
And I’m glad you were satisfied with the ending to the Unwind Dystology, too 😊 I was a little skeptical over how some of the kids got over their parents having wanted to unwind them so easily, but overall, I really loved it!
I think I’ll skip River of Silver, though. It sounds exactly like the kind of money-milking additional content that always ends up disappointing me, so I’ll probably just reread the Daevabad trilogy if I start missing the characters too much 😅
Also, it was nice to get your thoughts on The Unhoneymooners. I didn’t mind the ending, but also didn’t go into the book expecting much more than a relaxing, character-driven, and kind of trashy romance 😁 So I was thrilled when I got that!
Anyway, happy new year – I don’t think I’ve said that yet 🥳💙🎊 – and to lots more great reading months up ahead!
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Snow is dangerous, that’s why people don’t like it! 😣 I’m sure your car would agree with me 😜 But they say we’re getting a snowstorm on Friday so can’t you do some magic trick that sends it a bit further south now that you like it so much? 😅
That the kids in UnDivided forgave their parents didn’t bother me as much because I think Connor’s case told us everything wasn’t completely back to normal. There would be stuff to work on in repairing those relationships and I found that believable enough. I thought it was stranger that Cam ended up playing such a tiny role in regards to Risa and Connor. He wasn’t in the book much at all and yeah, he did something but I think his character ended up as rather underwhelming for me. But I also didn’t like him so it didn’t bother me that much 😄
I’m glad you liked the ending to The Unhoneymooners but I so need to rant about it so sorry. WHY ON EARTH am I supposed to root for a couple where the guy tried to gaslight the woman into thinking she couldn’t be feeling what she was feeling, that she was just delusional despite all evidence pointing to her being right?!? Even after it’s revealed that Ami didn’t know about that so-called open relationship, he’s still claiming Olive is just looking for problems and being a pessimist. Come on, dude! Olive should not have ended up with that kind of trash! And the worst part is she KNEW this! But apparently, her family wants her to be with him, although I can’t fathom why so after all their pressure she forgives him and I’m supposed to believe that relationship lasted so long they got married?!? Hell no! But up until the point where she forgives him, I also really liked the book 😁
And with that rant, happy new year to you too 😂😇 May your little area of the world get a lot of snow in 2023 ⛄
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Don’t remind me of that! 😭 Although I also don’t think it’s fair to cite my car as evidence – that thing is so old that it probably would’ve broken down even without the snow. It wasn’t the snow’s fault!
Now that you mention it, Cam not being as involved did bother me a bit – he was one of my favorite characters! But I guess I loved the rest enough to make up for it? I just went back and checked my review, since it’s been a while since I last read the series, and apparently the only flaw that I thought was worth mentioning was that I didn’t think enough people died. Figures 😂 But all in all, I was also very satisfied with the ending we got!
Also, while I agree that Ethan’s actions towards the end are incredibly douchy, I can kind of forgive him because he was sticking up for his brother. I think he just loved Dane so much that he went into defense mode and denial when Olive said something that tarnished his image of his brother. So yes, Ethan acted like a total idiot, but since I would also ALWAYS choose my siblings over someone I’d only been in a relationship with for a few weeks, I kind of get it? I’d be devasted if I found out something like that about someone I loved and would probably shrug all evidence off at first, too, no matter how obvious it was. So Ethan eventually coming to his senses and apologizing was good enough for me, especially since he and Olive were so happy together – even if Olive could have made him work a lot harder to earn her back 😁 But I can definitely see where you’re coming from!
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I guess we didn’t really lose any of the important characters in UnDivided but I’m still so traumatized about the whole unwinding process and the number of teens who went through it that it feels like a lot of people died in those books 🙈 I didn’t need any more death.
And I know the whole he-just-loves-his-brother-so-much angle is what the book really wanted me to believe and I would also have thought that was fine if it had done the bare minimum to try and convince me Ethan loved Dane so much. Ethan kept saying he loved Dane but I never saw it in his actions. Yeah, they go on trips together but that was also kind of involved in the lie so how genuine were they? They also barely speak to each other throughout the book and then when Dane is painted as such a one-dimensional jerk, it’s really difficult to believe that Ethan would sacrifice Olive for him. Them being siblings isn’t enough. The authors had to build that relationship on the page before that kind of plot twist could work.
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But I didn’t know any of those teens! The emotional impactfulness of a death is so much better if you have already grown to love the characters 😭
And yeah, I see your point – I agree that The Unhoneymooners would have been way better if Dane and his relationship to Ethan had been fleshed out a bit more. But doing that off-page worked well enough to convince me, I guess 😂 Considering that this book was littered with clichés anyway and that I read it precisely because I wanted something easy and relaxing, I was fine with the side characters being somewhat mediocrely developed 😁
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